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tv   [untitled]    March 5, 2012 8:00am-8:30am PST

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>> good afternoon. i'm with the department of building inspection. we are approaching the sixth year of our brown bag lunch series here at the department of building inspection where we talk about topics related to construction in san francisco. we invite you to join us on the third thursday of every month here at the building department. we have an exciting lineup of shows this year. and one of them, today, is going to be really exciting because we have a terrific guest today. mr. woody labounty. >> thank you. >> woody is the founder of the outside lands? >> the western neighborhoods project. we'll talk more about that. >> excellent. and the author of a recently
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published book, which i have a copy of and it's really fascinating and wonderful. he's going to talk about "carville by the sea" today. we'll look at slides. he'll tell us about the history of the outerlands, previously uninhabitable area of the city. we will invite your questions. so, please, you in the audience if you have questions, let us know. woody can help. thank you, woody, for being here. >> thank you. so we're going to talk a little bit about carville by the sea today. carville was a unique community out on the edge of san francisco. as you can see by the slide, it was made up of old street cars and horse cars that people used for residences, bars, restaurants, clubhouses. it had its peak in the 1890's, around the turn of the century. i should mention that you see this is a color shot. none of these photos were
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originally colorized. i essentially put color in there for the book just to make it pop a little bit. so don't be fooled. before we get started i'd like to talk about the organization that i helped found 10 years ago, the western neighborhoods project dedicated to the history of western san francisco. we have a very popular website, where we have old photos, stories, over 15,000 messages put up by people remembering their time in the richmond district, the sunset district, west of twin peaks. i couldn't fit everything into a book so i decided to have a little companion website. so if there's new things that come up, if there's corrections, god forbid, it will show up on this website. old photos that i maybe couldn't fit in so visit that
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you if can. that's how do we start with carville? well, we start with the building material, essentially. how does carville get started? it starts with when old forms of public transportation become obsolete. now, the earliest forms of public transportation were omnibuses, which were really large coaches pulled by horses. but in the 1860's people came up with the new idea, the horse car. a horse car was essentially a little car that horses could pull but it used rails, on the ground. rails reduced traction. so horses could pull larger loads. horse cars really started taking over all across the united states in the 1860's, but they had some draw backs as you might imagine. can anybody think of something that could be a bit of a problem with horses pulling cars? yes. well, for one thing, horses were living animals and they could get sick. so some industries, some companies, lost thousands of
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horses to disease, which was just terrible for business. the other thing is a horse can drop up to 10 pounds of fecal matter on the street every day. so you're talking about up and down market street, tons of these cars going back and forth every day. it was just a public noose -- nuissance, you might say, and pratches a health hazard. so people were excited to find new forms of transportation. and they came up with one we're all familiar with, the cable car. so here on the left you'll see a cable car next to the horse car on the right. the cable car was a great leap forward because it cut the horses out of the equation. cable cars were a lot more energy efficient. they were very popular in cities all across the united states, including chicago. and they really took over in san francisco because cable cars could climb hills were horses couldn't, opening up development in parts of the city where before there hadn't been any. but cable cars had their drawbacks, too. a cablecar can only go nine
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miles an hour, as fast as the cable under the street pulling it. cables have a hard time pulling backwards, changing direction, investing in the infrastructure to put the cable in the street is very costly. so you have a lot of upfront costs. if a company wanted to run just one cable car, they had to start up the power house to get the cable car rung through the street. so it energy efficient issues as well. this is an interest street car. that was the new modern, exciting form of transportation. it was very energy efficient. each street car only used enough energy from the wires that it needed. it didn't have to run a power house. people were a little scared of them at first. the technology was a little heywire in the beginning -- haywire in the beginning. they could go very fast, but people thought they were too dangerous. but eventually trolley cars starting taking over. and in the early 1890's, the railway company started buying up transit companies across the city. wherever they could, they tried to replace the old forms of technology, horse cars and cable cars, with these cheaper,
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more energy-efficient electric trolley cars. the question was what to do with all the old cars. they had an idea. they took an ad out in the paper. they said the market street railway had all of these old cars. you could buy one without seats for $10 or with seats for $20. they had some suggestions with what people could do with the old horse cars and cable cars. they could be used for news stands, fruit stands, lunch stands, play houses, poultry houses, tool houses, coal sheds, conservatories and polling booths, etc. and it really is a testament to the market street railway's imagination that these cars essentially got used for all of these different purposes. here's a shoemaker in oakland. he opened up his little cobbler shop in an old horse car in his backyard. he locked it up at night with a long nail going through. he said, who's going to steal old shoes? a little bit more dramatic, a man named james mcneal took
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four old horse cars and put them on a pontoon to make a house boat near bell very deer. he called it the nautilus. he rent it out to people, tricked it all up in the inside for rich people to come have a little summer vacation in a very novel setting. and a watch maker. there was a realtor who used a car as a real estate office. we'll talk more about him in a second. charles stall took three and put them in the sun dunes of the -- the sandunes of the sunset district, created a little ouse -- house out there. and this guy on the bottom left, charles daley opened a place called the annex. he really called it a coffee saloon. you might call it a cafe of its time. does anybody here know where the sunset district is? a couple of people. good. over there. well, on the map you can see the sunset district is this big block south of golden gate park. this big grid pattern. it's very large. it's one of the largest
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districts in san francisco. this map, this grid pattern was actually created way back in the 1860's with the streets going -- crossing each other at right angles. we have numbered streets and lettered streets. but, even though this map was created in the 1860's, if you went out to the sunset district as late as the 1890's, you wouldn't see these nice grid streets. what you would see is something like this. the sunset district was almost completely sandunes with little patches of scrub here or there. it was thought to be uninhabitable by a lot of people. some people actually put that on the map, called the great sand waste or the great sand bank. it was cold, foggy. there was no infrastructure out there, of course, in the 1890's. no gas no. real good transportation. no sidewalks. people didn't want to live out there. however, what it did have is a steamtrain line that ran out
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lincoln way to the beach. it was basically built to bring picnicers, who wanted to get away for the weekend, to go to the beach for a sunday. right here at the end of the sunset district, at the northwest corner, is where carville gets its start, on a little strip of land, a little block that the mayor at the time owned. and that's where colonel daley put up his little coffee sal yoon -- saloon, using that old car. that's where carville takes off. so who's responsible for carville? we said the mayor of san francisco at the time. very wealthy land owner. owned at one point i think they say 1/12 of san francisco in land. most of it was in the west side of the city. robert fitzgerald was called the king of carville. he was an early settler to carville. jacob heyman that realtor, started being called the father of carville. we'll see why in a second. and this guy on the left, colonel daley, was often called
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the pioneer father of carville. he really gets a lot of the credit. here's colonel daley in his little shed. how do we describe him? he's sort of a 1890's bohemian, a bit of a herm yit. most importantly, he was a friend of adolph sutro's. and sutro had a real estate shack on the northwest corner of the sunset. he let colonel daley squat in there essentially. he went out every morning, walked along the beach. whatever washed up he brought back to his shed and created quite a large little compound of old bottles, shoes, anything that washed up. a ship wreck. provided a bunch of lumber. he made a sleeping loft in his cabin. for a while he had a wife. she didn't wash up in the waves. but she did eventually wash out. she couldn't handle cooking in
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the sandunes every night, creating a fire. so she left him sometime in the late 18920 -- 1890's. but daley took one of those cars we were talking about and opened this little coffee saloon where he sold sandwiches, doughnuts, and little items to the picnicers who came out to the beach on the weekends. and soon other people, they kind of were charmed by this little old horse car that was being used as a store. and they asked if it was possible that they could rent a car on his land. and he said, ok, $5 a month you can have a little car clubhouse in the land that he owned at the beach. so you see off in the distance that white shed. that's the colonel's shaq. the little car in the distance in the middle is his coffee saloon. and this red car is one of the first cottages rented by a bunch of lady bicyclists.
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you like the lady bicyclists, huh? lice cling was a raging fad in the 1890's. all of united states, newspapers, magazines were agast about it. they were just talking about it back and forth. was it healthy? was it unhealthy? are they taking over the roads, hazards to health and traffic? and most importantly everybody was very excited about the idea that women were bicycling. they were worried that women might perspire and that was an unhealthy and unfeminine thing. and a lot of women were wearing bloomers, these sort of blousey trousers to help them bicycle. that was thought to be scandalous. but the lady falcons, they didn't care. they were a group of seven married women who went bicycling. they would finish their ride, rest in the long seats there in the clubhouse. they started having dinner parties there.
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they became quite fashionable. and they sort of tricked it out with all the victorian fill debris they could cox up -- filigri they could come up with, japanese fans, curtains, cushions it became sort of a fashionable, bohemian thing to do that other people took up the idea, rented these clubhouses from sutro, and many of them were -- there were superior court judges, clerks who rented these. it was sort of a weekend get away. there were all sorts of cars lined up on the great highway. again, these people were renting. so they can't do too much to the cars. they can kind of fix up the inside. but the outside pretty much has to stay the same so they do look like old horse cars or street cars on the great highway. this car in the center was mrs. gun's.
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mrs. gun ran a restaurant there with permission. she was sort of like the soup nazi on "seinfeld." she kind of served you if she liked you. if she didn't like your face, you were out and banned from the place for life. she was a character that everybody kind of had a soft spot for. she was there until the 1920's when she passed away. now, the other thing that's kind of funny is -- remember, this is all empty sand dunes with like seven or eight cars out there. well it wasn't because realtors weren't trying to sell the land. everybody thought san francisco would expand eventually. all of these real estate guys were trying to sell lots and nobody was buying. it was cold, foggy. there was no good transportation. it just wasn't a good buy. but then one of these real estate guys, who owned a couple of blocks just south of sutro, saw these cars lining up and saw the popularity of them. he decided, well, if you can't beat them, join them. so he made a little deal. he bought 50 old cars, dragged them out to his land just south
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of sutro in the sanddo you knows. and he said, if you buy a lot from me, $35 up front, $7.50 a month, i'll toss in two cars. so you can pretty much move in today. it's like a starter home. and it kind of helped get attention to the whole thing. he built what he called novel seaside cottages. so this is one of his novel seaside cottages where he basically elevated these cars to a second story. here's one in construction. and off on the right there is his little real estate office, in another old car. and jacob heyman this guy really struck gold because he zug in the sand looking for water -- dug in the sand looking for water and hit the ackqua for. so suddenly you had fresh water. that was a big deal. now you could perhaps live out there year-around. this was heyman's land just south of sutro's. you could seat cars lined up waiting for buyers, essentially.
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in the background you have some of these novel seaside cottages. he left the cars exposed on purpose. it was a publicity thing. you might come out picnicing or walking along the great highway on the weekend and thought what the heck is that thing? you go over, buy a lot, $35 two cars, can't miss. this is that same view just a knew months later. we're talking about mid 1899 now. you can see the cars are all starting to be put to use in buildings. they'd come up with all of these different patterns. this car on the left is two cars end-to-end with a connecting vestibule. it's kind of an i pattern so you could have a cabin in one car, a compartment in one car. the other car might be your mother-in-law. and you could meet in the middle in that sorted of connecting section for breakfast. they did similar things. they'd put like four in a cross with a connecting part in the middle. and you could see these are not exactly a.d.a. accessible. they're up here on these platforms above the sandunes. you can probably guess why.
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if you can't, i'll give you another view here. this is the same view pretty much. so you can see that car up above the sandunes. but here it's getting sort of buried. the sand would shift. and it would blow around and they talked about if you lived in a car house how you might get up in the morning, open your door, and there would be a three-foot drop. or if you made the mistake of having your door open out, you might not be able to get out because the sand billowed up against the door in the night. so they build these car houses up on stilts just to keep them above the sand and above the fray. this idea of buying your own lot and getting your cars really booms. jacob heyman hits it, the jackpot. everybody wants to buy their own car house now. on sutro's land you could only rent it. now the creative carpenter starts emerging. they can take these cars, add additions, put them um in the air. -- up in the air. this is a house from a gardener in golden gate park. this is on the great highway.
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you can see he just put one car on the end as sort of a little sun room or viewing area facing the ocean. a lot of cars were used as rentals. these are little rental cabins where they basically just put two together. and the real estate guys who owned lots could rent them for people for the weekend or this summer. you had millionaires coming from all over the place to actually rernt a -- rent a car, to rough it in the old car in the beach. it was just a novel, faddish thing to do in the 1890's. >> woody, i was wondering. you said they dragged them out. i know the maps from that area, and basically the lincoln street line is the most southern railway for the city at that time. so everything south of that, you're telling me, sandunes. we all know walking sandunes. how did we drag them out? did we drag them out on lincoln with horses? were we able to put out some rails. there's a good deal of bodies when you say 50 or 100. >> that's a good question i was
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really struggling with. well, for one thing, the golden gate park, the roads, the park commissioners were very jealous about. they didn't want anybody to use the golden gate park roads for commerce or transporting things. they wanted to keep it for recreation. so for a long time i thought maybe they used that streetcaroline on lincoln way, used the rail, somehow put the cars on some kind of fladbed rail thing, brought them out to the edge and dragged them across the sand, perhaps on sleds or something. i finally came across what heyman did in an article. he actually somehow talked the commissioners into using the golden gate park roads. so he -- remember, the apparatus, most of the machinery, is taken out of these cars which makes them a lot lighter. they're mostly wood at this point. they're probably brought out, pulled by horses through golden gate park road. then in 1892, the great highway gets improved. then he's only got maybe half a
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block of sandunes to drag these cars on to his land. now, once you get these cars kind of sitting in the sandunes and somebody buys a lot three blocks away, i don't know exactly. again, i think they must have used some combination of sleds, horses, block and tackle. you know, we're not exactly sure. >> but maybe only a few blocks instead of the great distance. >> right. maybe creep little by little to grow. and most of carville was centered in about a two or three-block radius. so people started getting very excited about the idea of what they can do with these old cars. this was a very famous sort of bed and breakfast of the 1890's called vista del mar, run by mrs. patriarch. she had these old north beach and mission horse cars that she essentially left revealed on the upper floor. she put pillows and hammocks up there so guests could stay up and look at the ocean from the car up above. this house sort of became like the winchester mystery house. it kept growing and growing,
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and having more additions and more cars annexed on to it. so at one point it has up to 10 cars. you can see they're using old dash signs or destination signs for fencing, actually, here in the front. so everything gets recycled in carville. later mrs. patriarch's bed and breakfast becomes an episcopal church called st. andrew's by the sea. so here it is in that incarnation. in the back there's a shed there. that's the sunday school, it says. you can see the fence. it was necessary to sort of fight the sand and keep it at bay. it's another pretty famous house on the great highway. it looks sort of like a mechanist myian temple or something. it kept being boxy and then growing. it's in the center here. it was made up of about four or five cars, actually. you could see people had different takes on it. some people liked to keep their
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cars very exposed and open. kind of have that old sutro land quality to it. so people could see it was a car. and others really rushed to shingle over or hide the caffers -- cars inside the architecture. this is the house on 40th avenue you see he has two cars. then he builds a more conventional little cabin on the right. again, it was sort of like you're showing off the cars. you don't necessarily need them. you could build a very small little cabin. the stars are made up, by the way. i just put those in. so carville becomes -- like we said, we had these rich people, millionaires coming down from sackmaster -- sacramento. it becomes a fashionable, trendy thing to do. the guilded age was sort of passed. we were in a depression in the 1890's so it kind of looked good if you were a rich person to say, oh, we're roughing it this year in cars down at the beach. it also drew a bunch of artists, writers, and other
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people who were attracted to the romantic idea of cars out in the sandunes. some of the people who came to carville, xavier martinez, the california painter, he renlted an old car as a studio out there at the beach. and that picture in the background here is one of his paintings. the associate editor at "sunset" magazine promoted it. another person, jack london, the writer, came out and partied in carville in an old car a doctor friend of his rented. george sterling, the poet who wrote "the cool, gray city of love" came out to carville a lot. and this guy really loved it. gillette burgess was a humorous, a writer. he wanted to be known as a serious novelist but he was better known for his children's books and nonsense works. he wrote "the purple cow."
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have you heard of that one? it's an old san francisco one. but he got so sick of it. tive written down here. he hated people reciting it back to him so he wrote, "a, yes, i wrote "the purple cow," i'm sorry now i wrote it. but i can tell you anyhow, i'll kill you if you quote it." he used carville in two of his novels, scenes and characters. one is a romantic. a guy rents one and brings his dates out there for a little romantic rendezvous. and another one where an old car conductor rents a car and it comes to life. you have to read more in these books. another artist and musicians. this car on the left, number one, was called la bohemme rented in the sutro section by musicians who when they finished their work downtown in the clubs and theaters would go out to carville to this clubhouse in the night and drink and go skinny dipping in the surf and raise all sorts of
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ruckus. this little hill in front of them they called mount diablo. they each had their own little locker that was locked up where they kept their liquor so they didn't have to share with each other. and less bohemian wildness. this was a women's card-playing club. they called their car water wild. carville wasn't only out there in the outer sunset. other little communities came up here and there all across the united states, actually. but after the earthquake and fire, 1906 earthquake and fire, there was a little sister community, you might call, called carzonia. and this was a dr. charles cross set up 10 old cable cars on california street. between california and cornwall street, fifth avenue and fourth avenue in the richmond district. he assured the neighbors who were very agast at the idea of these old cable cars being set up that they would be very tasteful and artistic.
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and essentially, yeah, it was like one room with a little bathroom attached made up of old cable cars. dr. cross thought he was hitting on something. there were hundreds of thousands of people who were homeless, looking for new places to live in the aftermath of the earthquake and fire. so he thought why not use these old cable cars. it only lasted about 10, 12 years. guess it wasn't a big hit. he built a more conventional apartment building after that to replace it. it really was the 1906 earthquake and fire that sort of spelled the end of carville. you have these hundreds of thousands of people looking for new homes, suddenly displaced. now they might listen to these men and say, look, you were renting before. you don't want to live there. i've got this lot out here, sand dune. but it's $100. you can build a house here for cheap. suddenly, more conventional houses start being built around carville. and some of the stores that kind of started throughout in carville are used by the neighbors. and you start seeing that these
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conventional homes start pushing out the cars. so we have these cars in the great highway. but behind we have these more straight forward, real houses. here it is again. they're sort of closing in on it. and writers bemoaned that the old planks that were used between houses and cars were now being replaced by real sidewalks, electricity actually comes out pretty quick. the septic tanks, windmills get replaced by real plumbing. the neighbors, they don't want carville anymore. they don't want these bohemian musicians skinning dipping and getting drunk at night. these sort of petting parties that are happening, that the young men are hosting in cars. they want real schools, real firehouses. they want to be known as a real community. and so an improvment group called the oceanside improvement group, decided that they would get rid of carville. they hosted an event on july 4, 1913. they called it "burning the car out of carville" which was
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pretty straight forward. they asked sutro's heirs if they could take the old cars that he had been renting in that original carville plot and make a big bonfire out of them. she said sure. so they took all the cars, put them in a big pile. it was july 4, so they bought some fire works and tossed them in with the fire. but they were trying to announce they were a new neighborhood. they didn't want to be called carville anymore. they wanted to be called oceanside, which sounded a lot more romantic. and so here we looked at that picture. there's a couple of car houses still around in the early 1910. but just 15 years later it really starts filling in. the stucco homes we think about in the sunset district. the merchant builders start building. the row houses start taking over in the 1920's and 1930's. and soon people start forgetting that carville was even there. the cars that do remain are